First Home Loss in 13 Games for Wildcats
by Brandon Craig
MARQUETTE, Mich - Riding high off of a series split at Michigan last week, the Northern Michigan Wildcats might have relaxed just a little bit over the weekend. The ‘Cats, despite doubling up on visiting Alaska-Fairbanks, 6-3, on Friday, suffered their first home loss in 13 contests, dropping Saturday to the Nanooks, 2-1.
It was the first ever win for UAF in the Berry Events Center. Alaska-Fairbanks is the only other team in the CCHA that plays on an Olympic-size sheet.
NMU head coach Walt Kyle was displeased with the effort by his Wildcats (13-9-5, 11-7-3 CCHA) over the weekend and cited respect as a reason for the split.
“We didn't show them any respect at all," Kyle said Saturday. "It's our own fault."
“We came out asleep," Kyle said. "They controlled play, and scored two first period goals."
UAF’s Scott Vockeroth and Kelly Czuy scored two first period goals for the Nanooks(9-11-3, 8-10-3 CCHA) which would prove to be all the offense they needed.
Jamie Milam scored the only NMU goal early in the third on the power play, but despite offensive pressure by the ‘Cats the Nanooks were able to hold on for the win.
Friday night the Wildcats’ league leading defense could have been dubbed the league’s worst defense.
Despite scoring six markers to double up on the Nanooks, the ‘Cats allowed 3 goals on the night.
Coach Kyle gave credit to the Nanooks for their effort, but was critical of his defensive corps ability to support senior netminder Tuomas Tarkki.
“Alaska took it to us pretty good early," NMU coach Walt Kyle said. "I think they played with a lot of intensity and a lot of focus. I think they carried the play. ... We came back and responded on the power play, which I thought was pretty important."
“I didn't think it was one of Tuomas' strongest games (Friday)," NMU coach Walt Kyle said. "I think Tuomas will tell you that, too. I think he's very, very consistent. I think there were a couple of those goals he'd like to have back. He made a lot of quality saves, which he will do.
"We didn't play well in front of him. Alaska played, I thought, very well."
With the CCHA race taking weird twists down the stretch, the Wildcats find themselves in a new precarious position. With Nebraska Omaha sweeping their weekend series, the Mavericks are now tied with the ‘Cats for third and Bowling Green is not far behind.
Northern is back next weekend hosting the Western Michigan Broncos at the Berry.